Future of School Awards Scholarships to Students from 23 States

Future of School (FoS), a national public charity focused on access to quality public education, today announced its 2020 Student Scholarship Program (SSP) winners. High school graduates from 23 states were awarded this competitive scholarship of up to $10,000 each. The financial award will support post-secondary education plans for nearly 40 students who are choosing to attend vocational, tech or trade programs, community colleges, or four-year universities

Since 2016, FoS has supported digital pioneers—both students and teachers alike—with the ultimate goal of demonstrating to all Americans the importance of transforming schools to include more innovative, tech-enabled teaching and learning opportunities. Student scholarship winners submit written essays and video testimonials focusing on the impact of digital education on their lives. Now more than ever, these success stories are important lessons for schools as they navigate plans for reopening amidst the pandemic.

In her video, 2020 SSP Scholar Alaina Smith stated, “In these trying times it’s been so difficult for all of us. There hasn’t been a single one of us that hasn’t been affected by what’s going on. However, I can say that my schooling was unaffected. Because I was already going to online school…I didn’t miss a beat.” Learn more about Alaina’s story here, as well as other students taking charge of their futures.…Read More

Opinion: Community colleges must commit to change

A new report documents abysmally low student transfer and completion rates at California’s two-year schools. Two L.A.-area campuses have already begun to make changes, say directors at the University of Southern California. California’s community colleges were envisioned by the state’s Master Plan for Higher Education as a low-cost alternative for students to complete the first two years of college before transferring to a four-year school. They were also designed for students whose ultimate educational goal was to attain an associate’s degree or career certification. But a report issued last week calls into question the success of those missions…

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California schools cancel deal with online Kaplan University

California’s community colleges have dropped a controversial plan that would have allowed their students to take some courses at the online Kaplan University and make it easier to transfer to that school for a bachelor’s degree, reports the Los Angeles Times. State community college officials say they’ve canceled a 2009 agreement with Kaplan, a for-profit institution, because the University of California and Cal State University systems had not agreed to accept Kaplan courses for transfer credits. Without the transfer agreements, the plan could have harmed students and the community colleges, the officials said. Kaplan University said it was disappointed by the decision but “will continue to foster relationships with California community colleges and to look for innovative ways to help students meet their academic and career goals.” The plan was intended to give students at the state’s 112 community colleges a way to take courses that might have been canceled or overcrowded because of state budget cuts. But some faculty were concerned about getting entangled with a for-profit school. Even with a discount, Kaplan planned to charge students $646 for a three-credit class, compared with $78 at a community college…

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Community colleges turn to online classes as enrollments spike

Distance learning enrollment continues to outpace overall college enrollment numbers.
Distance-learning enrollment continues to grow faster than overall college enrollment numbers.

Distance-learning enrollment in American community colleges jumped by 22 percent during the 2008-09 academic year, an increase fueled in part by an influx of nontraditional students who require the flexibility of online courses, according to a survey conducted by the Instructional Technology Council (ITC).

The ITC, which is affiliated with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), collected 226 responses from community colleges in its annual survey, “Trends in eLearning: Tracking the Impact of eLearning at Community Colleges,” which revealed the 2008-09 increase in online enrollment. Last year’s ITC survey reported an 11-percent uptick in web-based class enrollment at community colleges.

The survey also highlighted the closing gap in course completion rates among online learners, which traditionally has lagged behind that of traditional face-to-face students. Seventy-two percent of web-based community college students completed their class last year, compared with 76 percent of on-campus students.…Read More

$20 billion in ed funding slashed from student aid legislation

Funding for an online course program was cut out of the final student aid bill.
$500 million in proposed funding to create open online courses was cut out of the final student aid bill.

In last-minute maneuvering designed to get the measure to pass, lawmakers eliminated $20 billion in proposed education funding from the student aid overhaul enacted by Congress last week—dampening enthusiasm for legislation that K-12 and higher-education officials had lobbied for over the past year. Of that $20 billion, $12 billion was slated for community colleges to boost graduation rates, partly through the development of open online courses, and $8 billion was pegged for an early-childhood education program.

Community college officials cheered the American Graduation Initiative (AGI) when lawmakers introduced the program last fall, but last-minute compromises and worries over the cost of the student aid bill forced legislators to eliminate the $12 billion set aside for AGI, observers said. The program aimed to help community colleges produce 5 million more graduates over the next decade.

AGI had included $500 million for an online skills laboratory modeled after Carnegie Mellon University’s Open Learning Initiative (OLI). The free, open internet classes were to be created by the Departments of Defense, Education, and Labor, according to a White House announcement.…Read More